Inappropriate laughter

I have become the Queen of Inappropriate Laughter. This isn’t entirely new; I have always had a bent towards the unintentional snicker at less-than-optimal times. But now—mired in grief and worry—I go entire days in complete numbness, it feels like, only to have the odd comment strike my funny bone. I laugh until I cry. And that’s a nice change of pace from just crying.

Otto and his brothers text each other all the time. The other day, Nearly Nickless sent Otto a text that had him guffawing. I asked to see it, and at first I wasn’t sure what was so funny. It was a picture of Nickless teetering on the edge of curb. Otto pointed out that it was taken at the restaurant where my mother-in-law fell and broke her hip after Christmas. It was a reenactment photo!

We couldn’t stop laughing. Even as we kept choking to each other, “This is wrong. THIS IS SO, SO WRONG.” Didn’t matter. We laughed and laughed. You used to be able to take me anywhere twice—the second time to apologize—but now it’s safer for all involved if I just stay home and alternately weep and cackle to myself.

I offer this as preface to what happened the other night.

When Licorice first came to us, she slept in the crate in my office. That continued for quite a while… a year? Maybe more? But Chickadee begged and begged to have Licorice sleep with her, and somewhere along the way we gave in, and that was it. She’s ruined now. This spoiled rotten dog believes it’s her God-given right to sleep amongst the humans, preferably taking up more mattress real estate than seems possible for a creature of her diminutive size.

We tried, the first few times the kids went off for a weekend with their dad or whatever, to put her back in the crate. Yeah, no. She was having none of that. She barked and cried and howled and it was pitiful. Being the strict and consistent parents we are… we gave up and let her come sleep with us when Chickie wasn’t here.

Now. It’s also true that Licorice would rather sleep with us than with Chickadee. This has nothing to do with Chickie and everything to do with ZOMGTHEBIGBED and the whole pack mentality of getting to bunk with the Alpha and blah blah blah. Whatever. But what it means is that when we turn off the television at night and Otto takes Licorice outside for her last potty stop of the evening, she often comes back inside and RUNS to our bedroom and hides under the bed. I think she figures we won’t notice her, and then she’ll get to sleep with us.

When Chickadee is here, and Licorice does that, Otto will pull her out from under the bed and take her upstairs.

Even now, with Chickadee gone so much and for so long, Licorice still seems to believe she’s getting away with something by sleeping in our room. Every night she goes outside, comes in, and dashes to our room to hide under the bed.

Often after we turn out the light and settle in, I’ll call her to come up and snuggle with me, and she’ll completely ignore me because she’s rotten. Also because she’s neurotic and I think she worries that Otto will grab her and evict her if she appears. If I really persist and call her multiple times, often she’ll come out from under the bed on Otto’s side (there’s a storage bin on my side, so she can only go under on his side), walk alllllllll the way around the bed, and jump up on my side. She’ll then drape herself all over me and go completely boneless, or she’ll plunk herself in the middle of the bed and commence licking herself, loudly. (I cannot imagine why Otto doesn’t want her sleeping with us.)

Okay, so. The other night I was exhausted because sleep and me, we’re not really BFFs right now. We went to bed quite late because there was a lot of terrible television that needed watching, and I took some melatonin in the hopes that I might actually get some rest. Otto usually makes it into bed before me, on account of he only has to brush his teeth and I have to brush my teeth, wash my face, put on lotion, etc. But on this night, Otto was doing something in the kitchen (I wasn’t sure what) and I was exhausted, so I powered through my routine and flung myself into bed. By the time Otto got in, I was already half asleep.

I jolted awake at about 1:30. I thought I’d heard something, but I wasn’t sure what. Maybe it was a dream. I listened, but I didn’t hear anything… wait, maybe I did. Crying? What the hell?

Otto bolted upright while I tried to figure it out.

“Do you hear that?” I asked him. He nodded.

There was a crash from the other end of the house. My heart started pounding.

“Where’s the dog?” said Otto. It was then that I looked around the bed and realized Licorice was not in her standard bed-pig-hogging-the-entire-center-of-the-bed position.

“Under the bed?” I guessed. We called her. She didn’t appear. Our bedroom door was open, because without the kids here we don’t bother closing it. There was another muffled cry. Another crash.

Otto sprang out of bed. “SHE’S OUTSIDE,” he said, running to the other end of the house.

I was still half asleep. I’d gone from being convinced we had intruders who were torturing our dog to wondering when, exactly, the dog had grown thumbs and let herself outside in the middle of the night.

I followed Otto. We ran to my office and opened the back door, whereupon one VERY happy-to-see-us pup crashed inside from the porch and commenced ferocious wagging and leaping and yips of joy.

“I took out the compost,” Otto said. “After I took her out, I brought her back in, and she ran for the bedroom. So I thought she was under the bed, but she must’ve snuck back out when I took out the compost.”

We looked at her, looked at each other, and realized that we’d left the dog outside for hours while we were inside snoozing away.

And then we started laughing. Giant whoops of inappropriate laughter, gales and snorts as we made our way back to our room, while the dog hopped into bed with us and pranced around the mattress, delighted to be reunited with her pack, and not holding a grudge in the slightest.

“We are TERRIBLE PARENTS!” I gasped, still laughing.

“The worst,” Otto agreed.

I thought of how she could’ve gotten out, left the porch or gotten out the fence somehow and disappeared in the night, and we could’ve woken up in the morning and had no idea where she was. How both my human children aren’t here, and ALL I HAD TO DO was keep one 12-pound dog safe, and I couldn’t even do that. And then there was a tongue in my eyeball and I was rubbing Licorice’s belly as she flopped around in the crook of my arm, and I was still laughing. Inappropriately.


  1. Amy

    Inappropriate laughter is the best laughter. Especially if you’re able to do it in church. In the middle of a prayer.

    I’m glad you’re laughing though! You needed a laugh.

  2. Jill W.

    Laughter- I’ll take it anywhere I can get it especailly in bad times. Glad you are getting a few moments of it. : )

  3. abbiejoy

    Yay! Laughter! Dogs are good for the soul. And a laugh, at least once a day. So glad you are writing again.

  4. Karen R.

    Take it where you can get it. Laughter is very good medicine.

  5. diane

    As I made clear on Facebook, I am a huge fan of inappropriate humor, especially in the face of adversity. Always refreshing to know I am not alone.
    Also, as an owner of two grumpy old lady cats, I love the routine of “I don’t want you all up in my face like that except when I need comfort and then you need to be here, why oh why won’t you come here and snuggle me like a good pet should? GEEZ!”

  6. BRyan

    actually, that sounds like very appropriate laughter to me!

  7. KarenP

    When we moved from Seattle to Olympia our beagle (who always slept on the bed and was a super sized monster beagle at 38 pounds…basset sized) decided he was always cold. I would wake up in the night and he would be under the covers, always on my side of the bed. One time he crawled into the duvet cover and couldn’t find his way out. He was howling and barking at some noise and couldn’t get out. Now we have three cats who sleep on the bed. We purchased a king sized bed since the cats take up so much room! Glad you got some needed laughter into your day!

  8. Lori N

    Dogs are the best — unconditional love wrapped up in a silly package.

    Also: I come from a long line of Inappropriate laughter/humor.

    True story: A few months before my dad died (he’d been sick with leukemia for over a year), some well meaning friends had brought he & my mom the flowers from an event they normally went to — kind of like a “wish you were there” present. Think about that for a moment — a banquet room’s worth of center pieces were dropped off at my parents’ house. Got the visual? Well, so did my dad. He threatened to set them all up on the floor, lay down among them, and play possum. I still get the giggles when I think about him telling the story and it’s been 6 years. (Side note: I am reminded of this every time I see large bouquets of flowers…every.single.time.I.giggle — can’t take me anywhere!)

  9. Tenessa

    ILOL (inappropriate laughing out loud) or rofil (roll on the floor inappropriately laughing) YES!

  10. Tracy

    If we can’t laugh at ourselves, who can we laugh at? Yay, you woke up!! :)

  11. Rasselas

    I’ll leave you with a quote from one of my favorite novels, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land:

    “I’ve found out why people laugh. They laugh because it hurts so much… because it’s the only thing that’ll make it stop hurting.”

    It’s good to see you writing. Sometimes, from pain comes the best art. ‘Cause that’s what might make it stop hurting.

    Also, you gave Licorice an adventure! Come on, with everything that’s going on, you don’t need to be judging yourself for this too. :)

  12. Sandra Tayler

    I wish you all the inappropriate laughter you can handle. Also, doggie snuggles.

  13. Sarahtoo

    OMG, what @Sandra Tayler said! The perfect comment, and double the wishes!

  14. diane

    Also, Lori’s story reminded me of my own Dad, who recently went to a cardiologist for some scary symptoms he was having (everything is fine, phew). I told him that according to Webmd he may have had an encounter with a puffer fish, or a South Pacific octopus. Without missing a beat, he says, “Really, if I could just stop this raging cocaine habit I’d be fine.”

  15. Angie McCullagh

    Hooray for laughter of any sort! Except maybe the maniacal kind, which I know you wouldn’t engage in, right Mir? And for the record, the reenactment sounds pretty hilarious.

  16. Megan

    OMG YES!! And no one gets your laughing because they’re outside so they don’t SEE how FUNNY it is WITH THE LAUGHING!! They don’t get that to them it’s Very Serious And We Do Not Laugh while to you it’s – dear god, if I don’t laugh I think I will combust!

    So yes, I get with the laughing, appropriate (TM) and inappropriate (even more TM ’cause, dude).

    Laugh. I’ll laugh with you, and I’ll be eternally grateful for furry things and the way they help make laughing okay.

  17. Aimee

    Inappropriate laughter is my favorite. Inappropriate laughter plus a doggie tongue in your eyeball? WIN!

  18. EG

    When I was sleep deprived after the birth of my #2, one night I got up in the middle of the night and went downstairs for some reason. While I was in the kitchen I thought I heard something, but I just kept on going in my sleepy state. The next morning I realized the sound I’d heard was the dog scratching at the back door as I walked by, like 2 feet away from her. Terrible dog parent! Since then she’s dug out of the fence so if we put her out and forget her, she comes to the front door.

  19. Karen

    Laughter is the best medicine ever… especially when it’s hysterical and side splitting and maybe not for the most appropriate reason. Keep it up, kiddo :-)

  20. Jen

    Best kind of laughter there is. Healthiest, too. Lowers cortisol or something else I can make up

  21. Kellie

    3 Things that are the best when you aren’t feeling up to par:

    1. Animals – I like dogs but anything cuddly will do :)
    2. Babies – enough said.
    3. Laughter – Inappropriate or not!!

  22. Mir

    BABIES!! Oh God, yes, babies. Who is going to bring me a baby head to sniff???

  23. Kristine N

    Love that kind of laughter….. It is the best.
    Keep it up!

  24. The Other Leanne

    “Who is going to bring me a baby head to sniff…”
    HAHAHAHAHA…unless that head is attached to a body, it’s going to smell pretty bad!
    Thanks for making ME laugh, Mir!

  25. Mir

    I prefer them attached to bodies, Leanne, but beggars can’t be choosers….

  26. Kelly

    I can totally relate to the inappropriate laughter. One time, probably when I was a teenager, my mom was going in for some minor surgery. The nurses were talking to her about what will happen when she wakes up from the surgery. They were talking about my mom’s name and asking if she had a nick name that she goes by instead of her full (kind of long) name. The nurse’s question was something similar to, “Do they call you something else?” It was an innocent question, but to me it almost sounded like she was asking about negative name-calling. I started snickering and couldn’t stop, even though I was trying so hard to hold it in, which makes it worse, of course. Everyone looked at me, so I said, “Yeah, they call her lard-ass.” Which totally wasn’t true and I have no idea why that name popped into my head. Totally inappropriate response from me, and of couse, I snickered even harder. I don’t know if I was nervous about her surgery or what, but I’m sure I was the one who looked like the ass!

  27. Jean

    Love the inappropriate laughter. My dog gets it all the time :) Laughter…God’s medicine for your soul :)

  28. Lara

    I too laugh inappropriately these days. It’s either laugh or cry right?!? Usually I manage to save those moments for in the privacy of my own home so only my husband knows I’m cracking up ;) Thank goodness for Licorice, nothing like the comfort of a dog :) Hang in there Mir. Got my fingers crossed that things look up soon for you all.

  29. Nancy R

    Oh, Kelly, that IS funny.

    When my middle daughter was preparing for her first communion, we were at church one night her class was sitting in a circle on the floor in church. The parents were standing in a circle behind them. Just as Sister J was leading us in the Lord’s Prayer, one of my daughter’s classmates (the goofy, silly, cut-up kid) farted.

    I could not stop snickering. Sister J and the other parents kept praying. My husband was giving me the ‘knock. it. off.” look. But I just. could. NOT. stop.

    I still snicker when I tell the story.

  30. liz

    Sending you hugs. So many of them.

  31. Jeanie

    Love that Licorice! Inappropriate laughter: Why is it that the more you know you shouldn’t snicker, the harder you guffaw?

  32. Debbi

    My most memorable inappropriate laughter episodes happened in church. One during communion, the other during a funeral. Not trying to top you or anything … heh.

    Hoping life smooths out for you sooner rather than later.

  33. Kati

    It seems that dads are aces when it comes to inappropriate humor. My own Daddy did things like open up an umbrella suddenly in a restaurant as nonchalantly as unflinching his napkin to get me to loosen up before meeting a special boy’s parents. When he found out that his cancer had come back to kill him, he called his last two months travelIng all over the US to see family his Farewell Tour. (Should’ve made tshirts.). And, one month before he passed, he took me and my family to breakfast over to the Cracker Barrel. I wanted to pick up the check since we were actually in the black financially. He wanted to pay. We haggled for a bit until the waitress came. He looked at her, then at me, and said, “You’re going to let me pay because I’m dying and it’s my final wish.”. She looked mortified. Dad and I howled.

  34. Kati

    Uh, that’s “unfolding.”. Uninte tional humor brought to you by autocorrect on my phone.

  35. addy

    So at a loved one’s funeral – we shared an inappropriate comment and then inappropriate laughter. He would have shared with us if he could. We got the giggle fits. Had to walk away from each other to stop. Ya inappropriate laughter is the best.

  36. Dorothy

    When my husband died my three grown children, brother-in-law and sister in law and I met at the funeral home to make arrangements. The funeral director asked if my husband was retired at which my daughter replied “he is now”. The kids and I cracked up and couldn’t stop much to the horror of my sister-in-law. I still think it is funny.

  37. Tara

    My sister and I went with my father to meet the physician’s assistant to learn about his upcoming heart bypass surgery. We spent the whole time cracking each other up. Tension needs to be cut. Laughter is usually the best method. BTW, it is ok to feel a little relief.

  38. mamaspeak

    Inappropriate humor was how I knew my husband & I were soul mates. :-) Also, if I had access to a baby, I would totally bring him/her over for you to smell. That’s one of my favorites too; new baby smell. (I did get to hold an 18mo old today, who fell asleep on my shoulder. Not a new baby, but I’ll take ’em where I can get them.)

    (Get some sleep. Go see a doctor for you. You need to put on your mask before that of the children traveling with you. When she comes home, she’s going to need you to be on your game more than ever.)

  39. Brigitte

    Inappropriate laughter is the best, stomach hurts, nose runs, tears flow trying to stifle it, and you just CAN’T!

    My best was in college, a friend was very proud and excited about her new niece. Then very concerned when the baby had a bout with jaundice.
    A day or two later, she was complaining that her brother-in-law hadn’t bought the proper PINK baby-colored bubblegum cigars for a girl-child, but YELLOW. And she wailed “Whoever heard of a yellow baby!?”
    That was just it for me, and nobody else in the room knew what I was laughing at, and of course I couldn’t explain.

    Here’s wishing you more episodes!

  40. victoria

    Pets, babies, laughter, and perhaps a nice punching bag?

  41. Karen

    Humor is the key, really it is. How else do people get through anything? When my Nana passed away (and I was about 12) there was a terrible electrical storm during the viewing. Lightning, thunder, the works, and then with one resounding crash the lights went out. At the funeral home. With her body up front. Yeah. My dad leans over to me and, quoting her favorite polka, whispers “Wow, must be in Heaven there really is no beer!”

    I have never laughed so hard, before or since.

    I wish you a baby to sniff and at least one ridiculous laugh fest a day.

  42. dgm

    Inappropriate laughter is my favorite coping mechanism.

  43. Kailani

    What do you call a fish with no eyes?

    A fshhhhhh!

    Luv ya!

  44. suburbancorrespondent

    Hey, Mir, I tried using the “contact me” link, but it didn’t work right. Email me, I have a couple of (well-informed) suggestions for Chickadee. God bless, and hang in there!

  45. Cindy

    I didn’t realize inappropriate laughter was so common! I am the wrong person to sit next to in anything that demands decorum. The fancier, sadder, more uptight something is, the worse it gets. My daughter took piano lessons for years and in one of the first few recitals (which are both really fancy and really uptight), I noticed a child whose name was (something like) Priscella Porter.

    I leaned over to my friend beside me and made a comment about why a parent would do that to a child. Surely you would carefully consider what initials you are giving a kid and “peepee” just seems nuts. That was all it took. We giggled, snorted, was absolutely insane and the worst part, as my friend pointed out, is that we would have totally grounded our children for doing the same thing. No, the worst part was that we repeated the whole inappropriate display for the next several years, including detailed speculation on what middle name the poor child might be saddled with. But it still makes me smile and it’s been close to ten years since I sat in a piano recital.

    SO glad to hear you are smiling too! Laughter is a true gift from God and I’m praying He keeps sending you what you need to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

  46. Susan in SF

    Yea for inappropriate laughter!!

  47. Pam

    Remind me to tell you one day about the completely inappropriate laughter that occurred in my sweet friend’s WEDDING MASS. Because jews unclear on the Mass thing should never be left alone to figure it all out.

  48. Amy Bliss

    Hi there. :)

    Been catching up on posts, but had to comment on this one first.

    In our family the inappropriate laughter always happens during a “visitation” or viewing the night before a funeral, and then in the same place the next day right before the funeral begins. My aunts and I can’t help it. We start talking about the dearly departed and find something funny, then laugh hysterically.

    Your laughter seems entirely appropriate!

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